We asked leading landscape designers for one of their favorite plants to work with. Here's what Pam Penick, a designer and garden coach based in Austin, Texas, had to say:
My favorite plant to use in a landscape design is bamboo muhly (Muhlenbergia dumosa), hardy in USDA Zones 8 through 10.
I love its fine, feathery texture, which turns it into a glowing, chartreuse screen when planted where the afternoon sun shines through it. Like all grasses, it adds movement to the garden, nodding and swaying in the slightest breeze. This Arizona-native clumping grass thrives in full sun but is accepting of part shade.
For a drought-tolerant, deer-resistant combination, grow it in a well-drained, sunny spot behind Jerusalem sage (Phlomis fruticosa), Yucca filamentosa 'Color Guard' and copper canyon daisy (Tagetes lemmonii). Their yellow flowers and/or variegated foliage play up bamboo muhly's yellow-green coloring, and the yucca and Jerusalem sage offer a wider leaf and stiffer form to contrast with the muhly's feathery waves.